RadioBDC Logo
Bad Habit | The Kooks Listen Live
 
 
< Back to front page Text size +

Fabulous fireworks

Posted by Eric Bauer, Boston.com Staff  July 31, 2008 12:19 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

first-night-fireworks.jpg
David Kamerman took this shot of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial on Boston Common during the middle of the First Night fireworks display on New Year's Eve in 2006.

By David Kamerman
Globe Staff Photographer

How do you get great shots of fireworks? If you have ever tried to photograph fireworks you already know why people ask this question — because it is difficult and unpredictable at best. It is a trial-and-error process in which the vast majority of images you shoot will not turn out well. How do I know this? Because I average only about a 10 to 15% ratio of usable fireworks images, even when trying to make that one great shot for the front page of The Boston Globe.

To start: You should have your camera manual handy as each camera manufacturer might use different terms. You will not be able to take one image and get a great photo; plan on shooting 30-50 images. Here are more tips to help you capture those July 4th fireworks shots.

Set-up

  • The most important tip when photographing fireworks is to use a tripod. You want to steady the camera. A tripod is really the best bet, although I have also used a coat or a sweatshirt wedged under the lens to steady the camera in a pinch.

  • If your camera has a cable release, use it. This allows you to shoot hands-free photos and prevents you from shaking the camera. If your camera doesn't have this option, it's not the end of the world. Just remember to press the shutter release button is a very gentle manner and try to avoid shaking the camera.

  • Don't use a flash. It won't have an effect on the fireworks, so just turn it off. Check your owner's manual to find out how to disable the flash.

  • Use a low ISO speed, in the range of 100-400 ISO. A general rule of thumb: As your ISO increases so does the "graininess" in the black areas of your picture.

  • If you can set your camera to show you images immediately after you take them, do it. This will allow you to get instant feedback. I set my camera, a Canon EOS-1Dmk2, to an automatic review time of four seconds.

  • Set your camera to manual mode if you can. If you can't set your camera to manual mode, try aperture priority.

Shooting
  • I start out at ISO 100, with a shutter speed at 4 seconds and the aperture set at f.8. When I begin shooting the fireworks, I keep an eye on my screen, which allows me to see if my exposure is generally correct. If it is too bright, I take my aperture down to f.11 or f.16; if the exposure is too dark, I open up the aperture to f.6 or f.4. If you can't achieve these settings through your camera's manual mode, experiment with your camera's exposure compensation.

  • I tend to only shoot the colored fireworks, as the bright white bursts tend to overexpose too quickly.

  • Experiment and have fun!

More David Kamerman photos

Want to keep improving, or have some tips to share? Check out all of our tipsheets or submit your own.

  • E-mail
  • E-mail this article

    Invalid E-mail address
    Invalid E-mail address

    Sending your article

    Your article has been sent.

JOIN THE RAW DAWGS

Welcome to your community for New England's amateur photographers. Take pictures ... get published ... win money ... have a blast!
OCTOBER THEME
The Color Green
It's the color of hope, envy, regeneration, relaxation, and money -- as well as the theme of the October contest. Make it the focal point of your best photograph.
Upcoming events

Featured Photographer

Featured Photographer: Ben Rifkin
Life and wildlife in Madagascar
For years before I started college, I knew I wanted to spend a semester studying abroad, but I wasn't sure where. By my junior year at Brandeis, I made up my mind to travel somewhere off the beaten path, and, of course, Madagascar is pretty far off the beaten path for someone like me....
An essay about Rebirth Workshops
Now that it's been several months since I returned from a week-long Rebirth Workshop in Mississippi, I'm happy to look back and provide an overview of what we did that made it such an intense experience for me as a photographer....
Photography apps for your phone
Thinking of ditching your separate camera and moving to just using your phone for all your photos? What apps should you go for? Instagram made headlines recently after being bought by Facebook for $1 billion. What does it include, and what else is out there?...
archives